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Code goes to the moon, Deathbird Stories, The Message Podcast and much more

What We're Reading

Welcome back to another installment of What We’re Reading, Marxent’s weekly series featuring staff members dishing on what they’ve been reading (or watching … or listening to) for the past 7 days. This week’s rundown includes fascinating pieces from Wired, The Verge, Nerdist, The New York Times and many more. Enjoy!

The Best Thing We Read This Week …

Angela Boehmer knows quality when she sees it. As Marxent’s Quality Assurance Analyst, it’s kind of her job. So when Angela recommends the Wired article, “Her Code Got Humans On The Moon — And Invented Software Itself,” by Robert McMillian, you should settle in for a great read. “It’s about Margaret Hamilton, and I was blown away because I had never heard of her before, yet she made huge contributions to NASA and software,” Angela says. “There’s even a section that talks about how she crashed the software and she wanted to put in a fix to prevent it from happening in space (because an astronaut could theoretically cause the software crash while in-flight). NASA turned her down saying an astronaut would never make a mistake. Well Jim Lovell inadvertently caused that crash while in space on Apollo 8 and they had to spend nine hours figuring out how to fix it. The article is a little long, but completely fascinating.”

The Best Books We Read This Week …

In The Blink of an Eye Book CoverMaybe it’s all the video projects he’s been working on lately, but Joe Johnson, our Creative Director for Marketing, is currently engrossed in “In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing,” by Walter Murch. “Nominally a book about how to edit cinematic productions, ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ (‘IBE’) is actually a framework for understanding human consciousness through the lens (haha) of discontinuity,” he says. “Film is a series of images chopped up into a mosaic that resembles our everyday, continuous experience. The reality is that it is a series of total and instantaneous displacements of experience that somehow just works. ‘IBE’ is a discussion and exploration of why our consciousness pieces those cuts together and, more practically, how to take advantage of that process to make better, more beautiful stories.”

Nick Kiziris, Marxent’s Project Management Lead, is currently sweating his way through, “Deathbird Stories,” by Harlan Ellison. “A reissue of a collection of Ellison’s most terrifying science fiction short stories,” he says. “Ellison wrote a couple of episodes of the original ‘Star Trek,’ and has gone on to write countless short stories, comics, and essays focused on the dark human side of science fiction.”

For Your Listening Pleasure …


Nick Kizirnis is ready to make some noise! Well, share some noise, at least. “Here’s a cut from way back, The Beastie Boys ‘Make Some Noise’ — this is an instrumental version with a riff that will rock the house … even at 7 a.m.” Listen at your own risk …

In the realm of non-musical listening, The Message Podcast has become a favorite of iOS Unity Developer Ben Rubey, who raved about this week’s episode. “Basically, it’s a story about a group of people working at Cypher, a code breaking and decryption team. They get tasked with the decryption of a message that is thought to have originated from outside of our solar system. The show is littered with accurate science, even though its a work of fiction,” Ben says. “The thing I loved most about this podcast is that it felt like it could have been real (minus the curse stuff in the beginning), but at the same time the entire story is so mysterious. The amount of research and fact checking that went into it is staggering, and it makes the entire thing very believable. If you’re interested in any sort of astrophysical science or even aliens in general, this is a great story. It’s basically just a great, short audio story.”

But wait, there’s (so much) more …

Cooking with code

In addition to reading, the Marxent staff also writes stories for our website for a series we call Marxent @ Work. The latest installment is from Unity Developer Brian Turner, who discussed his two great passions (and shared a tasty fudge recipe!) in his piece Cooking with code: Making fudge (I mean delicious software!) at Marxent.

Project Manager Jo Anne Brenzo was spirited away by The Nerdist’s “Explore the World of Studio Ghibli in Virtual Reality,” by Kyle Anderson. “I read this because my sister and friend love Spirited Away, and Maria’s (the concierge at the Lowe’s Holoroom in Dublin, Ohio) favorite movie is Totoro — both mentioned in this article,” Jo Anne says. “And it looked pretty. Mostly it looked pretty. I wouldn’t normally watch a movie like Spirited Away by choice, but definitely would in VR.”

Marxent itself made news this week, after Forrester Research named us a Breakout Vendor for Virtual And Augmented Reality in 2016. Very cool, and we couldn’t be more excited and grateful for the recognition.

Sales Director Jeff Morrow pointed out The Verge’s article, “Virtual reality theme park The Void opening its first outpost in Times Square” — partially because it shows the continued mainstream adoption of VR technology, but mostly because of the main attraction: “Ghostbusters’: Cross the Streams at Virtual Reality Experience.”

Kelly Parsons loved the above video, “Google’s Deep Mind Explained! – Self Learning A.I.” “Here’s a YouTube video talking about a new A.I. that learns from experience, and is able to master any task from observing and attempting the same task repetitively.”

Visual Marketing has with us for a long, long time, but modern technology is changing the way businesses sell and consumers buy products. In my piece, “Virtual Reality (and AR) retail visual merchandising ideas: Top 4 reasons AR and VR are made for visual marketing,” I explore the history of visual marketing, from Macy’s holiday windows to today’s rapidly changing AR- and VR-enhanced sales strategies.

Leiv Bruce, an AR/VR Sales Associate, recommended an article titled “R&D, Meet E&S (Experiment & Scale),” published in the MIT Sloan Review. “I read this morning, and found to be pretty applicable to the way we work on projects,” he says. It speaks to getting active experiments out in to the marketplace, and then iterating on them based on the findings of these experiments. This seems to be exactly what the Lowe’s team is doing with the UX/UI improvements they keep adding to the Holoroom.”

Nick Kizirnis is currently loving the Canadian TV series Orphan Black, which got a big writeup in the New York Times this week. Nick says of the article, “The Many Faces of Tatiana Maslany,”  and the show: “Orphan Black is a dark mystery about cloning, bleeding edge science and manipulation, I’ve been binge-watching the first three seasons. Tatiana Maslany (pictured right) plays a group of clones who work together to uncover the truth about their makers. She nails it x6.”

Marxent’s St. Pete office welcomed new Sales Associate Nick Pfeiffer this week. Of the many firsts Nick experienced this week, we’re sure his first submission to What We’re Reading is a clear highlight. So what is Nick reading? “This article caught my eye — “Time Machine VR to Launch May 19 on Oculus and Vive” — because I have always been into dinosaurs and time travel. Back to the Future and Jurassic Park are definitely on my top 10 movie list. They have a really cool idea to put the player in the shoes of a time traveler who is assigned to investigate “the treacherous depths of the Jurassic oceans by harvesting data on the sea-dwelling leviathans of ancient Earth.” Seems like an awesome way to visualize things you only ever saw in books growing up,” he says.

And finally …

Looking forward to the summer games in Rio? You may want to temper your enthusiasm. A sobering story from Time, titled “Zika Virus Means Brazil’s 2016 Olympics Must Not Proceed,” calls into question whether the games should go forward as planned. The chilling takeaway: “Given the choice between accelerating a dangerous new disease or not — for it is impossible that Games will slow Zika down — the answer should be a no-brainer for the Olympic organizers too. Putting sentimentality aside, clearly the Rio 2016 Games must not proceed.”

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